You stumble through Elazığ, Turkey. Probably; you’re a bit lost because it’s an uncredited viral image transmitted with no context and near-identical framing for years.

But you think you’re in Elazığ, Turkey, pawing through waste rock at the quarry. #YouFindARock.
You contemplate the pile as you search archival imagery with fading hopes of ever identifying the original photographer and context.

You pick up a rock.

>
You stick out your tongue.
You lick.
Mmm, dusty. It’s otherwise completely flavourless.

You look around. You’re pretty damn sure you’re at Elazig Visne Quarry, but who really knows? If only content thieves valued credit & context over imaginary points

📷 StoneContact.com Giant stone block that is c...Heavy equipment approaching...
Your irritation still simmering like a beef stew on low, you glare at the rock determined to investigate the shit out of it.

>
Cackling manically, you squirt dilute hydrochloric acid on the rock.

Bubbles! So many bubbles!! You will single-handedly dissolve this block of rock into carbon dioxide gas and done calcium ions dissolved in water. Bwahahaha!!!

>
You pull out a chisel and hammer, determined to transform this dusty cherry marble into a work of art.

At just Mohs hardness 3 when untreated, it’s soft enough to easily sculpt. The tiny cleavage faces of the metamorphic rock sparkle, while the translucent gives it depth.

>
You search nearby until you find yourself at Kop Krom Mine.

#YouFindARock, a vein of rich magenta crystals twisting through the cracks of compact chromium ore.

📷 Pierre Rondelez Classic point my crystals i...
The extremely pointy crystals look lusciously juicy, yet the hydrothermal formation in a heavy metal mine screams danger.

>
Resisting temptation to jam sharp candies loaded with heavy metals into your mouth, you zap the rock instead.

It fluorescence the faintest hints of orange. Your laser might be splitting? Bifringence is very poor but possible.

You wonder if your eyes are teasing you.

>
You paw at the crystals, then give a scritch along the rough crystal faces. Your fingernail leaves a faint line: Mohs hardness 2-2.5

>
You pop the gorgeous crystals in the oven, cranking the temperature to 350K.

“Ooooh, what’s this?” you chirp, “Photoluminesence!!” You peer through a spectrometer that splits the emission into individual wavelengths, catching strong peaks in green and yellow orange. “Lovely.”

>
You carefully slice into the crystals. They resist faceting, leaving you in awe of the few gems that have made it to market.

You manage to clip a clean cross-section. White zoning highlights the triangular cross sections.

📷 Jason J. Evans The same purple crystals, b...
“It’s definitely Kämmererite,” you muse. “But what should I do with this chromium-bearing Clinochlore?”

>
While Kämmererite looks nothing like mica, you’re curious if the similar phyllosilicate compositional blocks arranged in interlayered sheets leads to similar flexible tenacity.

To your absolute shock, gentle attempts to bend longer crystals actually works.

>
“You know, your mineral family clinochlore is literally named for being green & wonky,” you tell the Kämmererite while petting it affectionately. “You’re not very green. But you’re cute.”

You settle down in the Turkish mine, close your eyes, and dream of flakey honeyed deserts.

• • •

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More from @mikamckinnon

Dec 26, 2021
The degree of rage I feel when someone flippantly declares getting COVID is inevitable and we should give up is beyond my ability to politely express.

It’s never too late to make things less bad. Like Climate nihilism, it’s self-destructive bullshit & I have no tolerance for it.
Science is an astonishing tool linking cause and effect, enabling us to create a path to any future we want.

It’s not easy! Untangling details can be lifetimes of effort to get right. But the harder part is picking a future, then doing the work.
It’s daunting. We need to do the work individually, but we also need our communities, governments, & everyone everywhere else to do the work.

But if we refuse to surrender to suffering?
If we keep struggling to do better?

We have infinite possible futures that are less bad.
Read 5 tweets
Mar 9, 2021
You know the rules:

Most vibrantly-coloured rocks are on the Do Not Lick list, but ALL rocks that are literally radiating are definitely on the Do Not Lick list.
> Record scratch

> Freeze frame of you, the protagonist, contemplating the pros and cons of licking a plutonium puck.

“You’re probably wondering how I got here. It all started when I was strolling around France...”

#YouFindARock.

📷 Roberto Bosi Densely-packed crystals of a pale translucent tan spackled a
You pick up the hunk of densely-packed quartz crystals, intrigued by the spatters of matte black.

“Did you mould?!” you ask the rock incredulously. “No, no, that’s not quite right... what IS this?”

>
Read 15 tweets
Nov 21, 2020
I’m reading a lot of well-intentioned articles that make it clear how many scicomm peeps have no idea disaster risk reduction is a deep field with a lot of research into effective communication.

ProTip: Using fear & shame as motivation backfires when applied to public health.
I can’t write this article (or even thread!) right now as I’m under medical orders to drop my stress levels (ahahahahasob), but...

If you’re writing well-intentioned pieces trying to influence pandemic behaviour, please take some cues from disaster sociology research. It exists!
Fundamental premise:
Vanishingly few people make active choices they believe will endanger themselves or the people they love.

If they’re making “bad” choices, it’s a fundamentally different risk perception. Until you understand how & why, your argument will miss its audience.
Read 7 tweets
Nov 20, 2020
Gritty has found rocks.

They are all safe but boring to lick. It’s a solid selection of common crystals from a rock shop or museum gift store.

I do have a few questions.
If you go outside and pick up a stray rock, it’s probably quartz.

This looks like quartz. Quartz is an excellent oscillator that is piezoelectric & resonates well.

White sand is also quartz, and is near oceans.

Conclusion: Gritty can use quartz as a distributed spy network.
I have questions on this ID.

If it’s rose quartz, it’s about as fun as licking a window for flavour.

But it could easily be pink halite (like Himalayan rock salt!). If it is...? Lick it! Lick it moar!
Read 7 tweets
Nov 19, 2020
I’m stunned that we’re losing Arecibo.

Even if you don’t pay much attention to ground-based astronomy, you know this telescope from pop culture & movies. It’s somewhere special. nature.com/articles/d4158…
This article from just before the closing announcement is fantastic for the context of why Arecibo is so unique:
space.com/arecibo-observ…
I just...

I know we’ve got a lot going on, especially with the mass casualty event scheduled shortly after US Thanksgiving.

But take some time to read the Arecibo tributes as they come out. They won’t be cheerful. But they’ll be heartfelt.
Read 6 tweets
Nov 14, 2020
Irregular reminder that landslides can behave like fluids.

(Thank you for all the pings!)
Landslides get weird when there really big, and can start behaving more like fluids than solids once they’re over the half million cubic meter mark.

...which was pretty much why I wrote a thesis once upon a time: io9.gizmodo.com/why-are-huge-l…
But technically landslide are fluid-like, not fluids.

Why?

Because they’re a mixed mess of materials that act differently when moving than when still. You can’t just sample a tree trunk, some peat, and water to figure out the rheologic properties (how it flows).
Read 9 tweets

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